Carbide Tools

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KenB259

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Dec 24, 2017
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Michigan
I have been using carbide tools for close to two years now. I also use HSS tools too. When I started using carbide tools, it was all new and I used them the way that seemed natural to me. Now the point to this post is not a debate on what is better, HSS or carbide, they both have their place in turning. LOL, you are also not going to change my mind about what follows. Most of you have seen examples of my work and I stand by my quality. So here’s what I’m curious about. The workhorse carbides are round and usually square or square with a radius, we’re all familiar with them. When I started with them, what felt natural, and the way I still use them is I rough turn with the round carbide and do the finish turning with the square one. Seems natural to me, the round one is more like a gouge and the square one is more like a skew. It appears I use them backwards , but they work well for me and again I’m not changing it up. Does anyone else use them as I do ? What would be the rational to use the square one first? Just curious to others opinions. I get skew quality cuts and rarely sand with my method.


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JimB

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Mar 18, 2008
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West Henrietta, NY, USA.
I do 99% of my turning with HSS. However, I do have a set of EWT carbide. i Don’t really see much of a difference in the quality of cut between the round and the radius cutter. I choose which one to use based on the shape I am trying to make. Sometimes certain woods seem to cut better with one than the other.
 

mark james

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Sep 6, 2012
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Medina, Ohio
I use the same sequence as you do. Round to turn from the ends into the center, then later a radius cutter (usually not straight) for final cuts. I also use the Magical Skew, so both tools are on an angle. I will say, that depending on the material, I go back to HSS frequently - I am not locked into either set of tools and depending on the sun and moon alignment, one will simply feel better than the other. I value both the carbides and HSS; more tools in the box! :p
 

KenB259

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Dec 24, 2017
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Michigan
I use the same sequence as you do. Round to turn from the ends into the center, then later a radius cutter (usually not straight) for final cuts. I also use the Magical Skew, so both tools are on an angle. I will say, that depending on the material, I go back to HSS frequently - I am not locked into either set of tools and depending on the sun and moon alignment, one will simply feel better than the other. I value both the carbides and HSS; more tools in the box! :p
So I’m not crazy!! I know the verdict isn’t in on that yet. Seriously though, I also switch back and forth.


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leehljp

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Feb 6, 2005
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Tunica, MS,
It is an individual preference, IMO. Sometimes, when the mind eye sees something and the eye hand coordination works well with it, keep doing it.

My dad started pitching a baseball (underhanded of course) to me when I was in the 1st grade. Even though I am right handed, he got me started batting left handed. I played baseball through the 12 grade; played with the Jr High team when I was in the 4th grade.
THEN After HS graduation, I played my first round of golf (left handed) - WITH a baseball grip. I did learn the traditional grip while in college and could drive well, but I could hit farther and more accurately with my baseball grip. For my 160 lbs at that time I could hit 300 yds consistently and coaches said I should not be able to do it. I was often teamed up with 250 lb 6ft 4-5 guys because I hit drives like they did.

Your grip and choice is yours. It works for you. Hang onto it!

I am an advocate for HSS for the most part because I learned how to put a sweet knife edge on it, and as you have learned, finish a blank smooth enough that it doesn't need sanding! If you can do that with the carbide, don't change.

I don't use carbide often, and I have one that I keep a round cutter on. I do use that one on occasion to get started on but never for finishing.

Interesting topic!
 

alanemorrison

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Jan 15, 2019
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N Ireland
Also same as you, Ken. When I started turning I only turned pens with carbide tools and that is what I still use and in the same sequence as you.
I turn close to the bushings with the round and finish with the radiused square.
Alan
 

tiggere

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Jun 24, 2019
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NC
I just use the square radius for all of it...I used the round for the first time yesterday roughing out a green bowl...and I only did that because it chattered less than the square radius...
 

wood-of-1kind

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Jul 10, 2005
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Toronto, ON, Canada
I will comment based on the tools that I make and sell. The square 15mm is used first for quick stock removal. The round 18mm is used next to "finish" turning with minimal or no sanding. The rationale being is that the round is less likely to catch versus the square carbide insert. I designed the first 18mm insert and to this day have them made to my standards. The design was given to an Engineer friend (Gerald) of mine and he fine tuned my design. Unlike the"cupped" design, mine are completely flat accross the 18mm diameter.
 

KenB259

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I will comment based on the tools that I make and sell. The square 15mm is used first for quick stock removal. The round 18mm is used next to "finish" turning with minimal or no sanding. The rationale being is that the round is less likely to catch versus the square carbide insert. I designed the first 18mm insert and to this day have them made to my standards. The design was given to an Engineer friend (Gerald) of mine and he fine tuned my design. Unlike the"cupped" design, mine are completely flat accross the 18mm diameter.
Funny that we all pretty much use them the opposite way you suggested. As I said earlier, I get excellent, no sanding, results with round for roughing and square radius for finishing. In two years or so using carbide, I’ve never had a catch with either one.


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leehljp

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I will comment based on the tools that I make and sell. The square 15mm is used first for quick stock removal. The round 18mm is used next to "finish" turning with minimal or no sanding. The rationale being is that the round is less likely to catch versus the square carbide insert. I designed the first 18mm insert and to this day have them made to my standards. The design was given to an Engineer friend (Gerald) of mine and he fine tuned my design. Unlike the"cupped" design, mine are completely flat accross the 18mm diameter.
Pure square will catch for all but the steadiest of hands, but round makes it quite difficult to have a purely straight blank. 4" or 6" radiuses squares are made for that. I made my own radiused scraper end (HSS) about 12 years ago and have throughly enjoyed it. I don't think I could do consistent finishes with round. But as you mentioned, when I use square ends, I get catches.
 

MiteyF

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Jan 27, 2018
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Bay area
It's pretty rare that I use my carbide, but when I do, I almost always use a square/radius insert. I've never really figured out a use for the round insert.
 

TonyL

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Mar 9, 2014
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Alpharetta, GA 30004
When i use carbide, I use square or radius-ed square to rough and mostly round to finish. Whatever I can use more like a skew to achieve a shearing cut is what I use to finish.

It seems like you have found the perfect combination - stick with it until you find a way to turn more enjoyably. Sound like you arrived! Great weekend ladies and gents.
 

Lucky2

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Mar 2, 2012
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New Brunswick/ Canada
Personally, for me to get the best results possible, is to use the square radius cutters then the round finisher cutters. Using this method, I get no catches, and I find it easier to finish a pen with minimal sanding. I get the same results from both sets of carbide tools that I use. the first or larger set is made by Easy wood Tools, and the smaller set is a Rockler set of three carbide tools.

Len

P.S. I don't always use my carbide tools to turn pens with, sometimes, I just use my conventional turning tools. I don't turn much other than pens, but I do turn the occasional bowl or platter. Just not very often, so using my conventional tools keep me in practice. I haven't been able to turn anything for a while now, I have no shop or space to use my tools in. I do hope to rectify that this summer, but you never know what will happen.
 
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